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Lyme Disease in Dogs

© by Bree Weasner, LLC

Lyme Disease Borrelia Spirochete

Lyme Disease, not to be confused with Lyme’s Disease, is caused by bacterium (spirochete) named Borrelia. This bacterium is transmitted to dogs via tick bite. Once it enters the blood stream, it is carried throughout the body, localizing in areas like the joints. Many different species of ticks carry the bacteria.

Can Lyme Disease affect people?

Yes, but humans do not get the disease from dogs. People get infected from the same ticks that give the bacteria to dogs. It is important to know the dangers of ticks, and prevent as much exposure to ticks as possible.

How does Lyme Disease affect dogs?

People that develop Lyme Disease develop a rash where they were bitten within 3-30 days. Because of this rash, the disease can be detected early in people, but it is difficult to detect in animals. Dogs and cats do not develop the characteristic human-type rash, so it is hard to recognize as its symptoms can mimic other illnesses.

Most dog owners take their dog to their vet when their dog is in pain or has stopped eating, prompting them to seek medical attention. Dogs with Lyme Disease have been described as “walking on eggshells” with high fevers. Dogs may also become disabled and not able to walk properly. This lameness is painful and can shift around different legs. Some pets with Lyme Disease can be affected for over a year before they show symptoms.

Diagnosing Lyme Disease in Dogs

Dogs that have trouble walking, fever and swollen joints are typically suspected of the presence of Lyme Disease, but other diseases mimic these symptoms. Veterinarians use an antibody test to detect if antibodies are present as well as a DNA type test to determine if the bacterium is present in the blood. To prevent false negatives, samples are typically taken from affected joints.

What is the treatment for Lyme Disease in Dogs?

Treatment for Lyme Disease includes a long course of antibiotics in order to completely rid the dog of the organism. Often times, different antibiotics are needed, as some drugs are not effective. It’s important to know that the infection can recur or the dog can become infected again if bitten by another tick.

Protecting your dog against Lyme Disease

The best way to prevent Lyme Disease is to limit the exposure to ticks, which can be found in grassy, woody & sandy areas. Ticks have sensors that enable them to detect when an animal is present, and they then crawl or drop onto the animal. When outdoors, keep your pet away from thick underbrush and on trails when walking. Prevention is key; Flea Free is a food supplement for tick & flea prevention, and PetZone Flea & Tick Protector (patch that attaches to your pet’s ID tag on the collar). PetZone Flea and Tick Protector is the safest, most effective and affordable preventative against the many diseases caused by fleas and ticks full one full year, including Lyme Disease. It is safe for all animals, all ages, including humans and horses. We use and HIGHLY recommend!

If you see a tick on your dog, remove the tick right away and put it in rubbing alcohol or smash it between two hard surfaces. You can also freeze the tick if you think Lyme Disease testing will be needed. If you remove the tick quickly, you can prevent infection as it is only transmitted if the tick has fed for 12 hours. You should be very careful when removing ticks as the disease can pass to you via cuts or wounds.

There is currently a vaccine protecting canines from Lyme Disease, and it is given 2x at two-week intervals. Your dog will need to be vaccinated every year in order to stay immune.

About Us

My name is Bree Weasner, and I’ve been bringing pet owners like you valuable information on pet nutrition and natural holistic alternatives to conventional pet care since 2001.

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